Deaths of U.S. Women During Pregnancy, Childbirth Rises 27 Percent in 14 Years

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The number of U.S. women who die during or soon after pregnancy may be higher than previously thought — and it’s on the rise, according to a new study.

Between 2000 and 2014, the nation’s maternal death rate rose by almost 27 percent, researchers found. However, over that time, reporting methods changed, the study authors noted.

For every 100,000 live births, nearly 24 women died during, or within 42 days after pregnancy in 2014. That was up from nearly 19 per 100,000 in 2000.

The numbers, published online Aug. 8 in Obstetrics & Gynecology, are worse than previous estimates. Federal health officials have already reported a spike in the nation’s maternal mortality figures, but they estimated a rate of 16 per 100,000 as recently as 2010.

The new findings give a clearer picture of where the United States really stands, according to lead researcher Marian MacDorman, of the University of Maryland.

And it’s not a good place, her team said: With the 2014 numbers, the United States would rank 30th on a list of 31 countries reporting data to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — beating out only Mexico.

A large share of the national increase does have to do with better reporting, MacDorman said. Since 2003, U.S. states have been slowly adopting a revised standard death certificate that includes several pregnancy “check boxes.”

But, she said, about 20 percent of the increase reflected a “real” rise in women’s deaths.

“Certainly, maternal death is still a rare event,” MacDorman stressed. “But it’s of great concern that the rate is not improving — it’s increasing.”

The big question is, why?

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SOURCE: CBS News